San Francisco Twenty-somethings, I had a great weekend, thanks so much for asking. I had a potluck at my apartment on Friday night, I attended another one in San Jose on Saturday afternoon, and later that night, I got drinks in Oakland to celebrate a friend's birthday. However, I did have to skip an invitation to get drinks in San Francisco on Saturday night because I had already committed to the other two engagements.
Pay close attention to that phrase I just used, "committed to." You just don't hear it much from fellow SFTs these days, and I don't even mean in the relationship sense. We SFTs just aren't familiar with it. We always respond "maybe" to Evites and Facebook events, we chronically text to ask who else is coming, and we inevitably email the next day after not showing up with a sorry-I-had-to-bail-don't-hate-me-let's-get-coffee-later cop-out. While I consider myself one of the more dependable SFTs, I'm definitely guilty of succumbing to this annoying generational affliction. Every SFT has done it, and every SFT has been on the receiving end of it, too. It's FOMO, better known as the "Fear Of Missing Out," and it's spreading like the plague.
Never before has a generation of young people been so damn flaky. As my roommate so precisely put it, we all have this inability to commit to something because we're waiting for something better to come along. It's easy to blame technology, because Facebook and Twitter enable FOMO. Through social networks, we can find out the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a party within seconds, and then find out about more parties within a few more seconds, and then get distracted by a video of a puppy giving a cat a massage. (Fine, that was just me.) We can pick and choose our social engagements and we can hide behind that "maybe," an option that I'm pretty sure did not exist on the paper invitations of years gone by. But I think there's more to this whole social commitment phobia than the social network escape route.
When did it stop being cool to make plans? And, more importantly, when did it stop being cool to hang out with friends... and to look forward to doing so in advance? I'm all for spontaneity, but plans exist for many logical reasons, such as food preparation and carpooling and not depending on the one on-time person to hold the reservation while the rest of the people trickle in 30 minutes late. If I sound bitter, it's because I speak from experience. I now bring a book basically everywhere I go.
Remember when you were seven, and you were invited to a birthday party? And you went because it was awesome and there was cake and you got to play with someone else's toys. You looked forward to it for weeks. Of course, birthdays have since lost their "special" feeling, but partying is still great. Nowadays, we're prone to asking too many questions before the party. How far is it from my apartment? How expensive is the cover? How many people are already there? Are they serving good beer? Can someone give me a ride back?
I'd say that it could be because we're all afraid of taking social risks and meeting new people, which is legitimately intimidating, but we're not even making the effort to hang out with our own friends anymore. It's a case of apathy at its least flattering. If we SFTs don't reverse the trend of half-assing our social commitments, pretty soon it's just going to bleed into our professional lives. Older generations -- you know, those with power and money and advice and other stuff -- won't respect us if we don't give them the chance to because we showed up late or we weren't there in the first place.
As the holidays approach and the dinner party invitations trickle in, I'd like to issue a challenge to all the wishy-washy SFTs out there, myself included. If you're invited to something that's in December, and it sounds cool to you right when you receive the invitation, RSVP in the affirmative. Lay down that yes. Offer to bring something. And then, next month, stay true to your word and show up on time. If the party starts earlier, then it lasts longer, too.
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